The mosquito strategy that could eliminate dengue

E. Callaway,  Nature,  2020.

Epidemiologists typically speak in qualified and caveated language. But newly released results from a trial of a biological technology that aims to stop the spread of mosquito-borne diseases have them using terms such as “staggering” and “epochal”. The study, conducted in an Indonesia city, showed that releasing mosquitoes modified to carry a bacterium called Wolbachia, which stops the insects from transmitting some viruses, led to a steep drop in cases of dengue fever. The findings provide the strongest evidence yet that the technique, in development since the 1990s, could rid the world of some of these deadly diseases, researchers say.

The trial in Yogyakarta released Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into randomly designated portions of the metropolis. Rates of dengue in these places were 77% lower, over several years, compared with areas that did not receive the mosquitoes. The results were reported in press releases on 26 August, but the full data underlying the figures are yet to be published.


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